1991 – The book “Ayahuasca Visions” is published by Peruvian Artist Pablo Amaringo and Anthropologist Luis Eduardo Luna
Pablo Amaringo (Pablo Cesar Amaringo Shuña) was a Peruvian artist renowned for his intricate and colorful depictions of his ayahuasca visions. Amaringo worked as a vegetalista or shaman in the urban tradition of plant medicine healing.
In 1985, Amaringo meet the anthropologist Luis Eduardo Luna who had done pioneering research on ayahuasca “plant teachers” along with meeting Dennis McKenna who helped develop early studies on the health effects of ayahuasca. The two researchers recognized the talent in Amaringo and supported him in gaining international recognition for his work.
Luna suggested Amaringo paint some of his ayahuasca visions, a project which became the basis of a book with Luna called Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman. The text includes many artworks and anthropological descriptions of ayahuasca mythology and culture. Amaringo founded and helped run the Usko-Ayar school of painting, which inspired a new style of art that reflects the artists’ ayahuasca visions of plant spirits and the rainforest itself. His paintings have a special relation to ayahuasca songs. He told Howard Charing:
“I chant ícaros when I paint, so if ever a person wishes to receive teaching or healing, they should cover the painting with a cloth for two or three months. On the day they remove the cover, they should prepare themselves by bathing and meditating. When it is uncovered they will receive the power and knowledge of the ícaros that were sung into it.”
In an interview, Amaringo explained that his ayahuasca visions have helped him in various ways, saying:
“My visions helped me understand the value of human beings, animals, the plants themselves, and many other things. The plants taught me the function they play in life, and the holistic meaning of all life. We all should give special attention and deference to Mother Nature. She deserves our love. And we should also show a healthy respect for her power!”
His iconic ayahuasca art inspired a generation of indigenous visionary art. The World Ayahuasca Conference in Spain in 2019 included a massive art installation of new and established artists carrying on the tradition that Amaringo helped originate. The curator of the exhibition, Sitaramaya Sita, wrote an article about the emerging generation of visionary ayahuasca artists that have come after Pablo Amaringo.
Amaringo, P, and Luna, L.E. (1993). Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman. North Atlantic Books.